good luck with that
this was not a catch
Well, it finally happened: Jerald Robinson has left the team after two years of practice hype did not translate into playing time. Michigan returns Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon, but in non-short-guy receivers the only returning experience is Jeremy Jackson. Darboh, Chesson, and whichever freshmen come in will have to pick it up fast.
Robinson is now the 15th member of the 27-strong 2010 class to exit. The departed:
- Conelius Jones (never showed up, academics)
- Carvin Johnson (played a bit, but transferred midway through Hoke year one)
- Cullen Christian (torched as a freshman, followed Tony Gibson to Pitt)
- Demar Dorsey (academics)
- Terrence Talbott (left team before fall for mysterious reasons)
- Ray Vinopal (same as Christian)
- Terry Talbott (injury)
- Antonio Kinard (never showed up, academics)
- Davion Rogers (never showed up, academics)
- Christian Pace (injury)
- Stephen Hopkins (moved to FB, injured a bit, quit football)
- Austin White (booted off team almost before showing up)
- Ricardo Miller (gave up football after not finding PT)
- Jerald Robinson (presumed transfer after not finding PT)
- DJ Williamson (didn't like football, quit)
What a disaster. Jackson and Dileo are the only WRs left from the five Michigan brought in; Michigan has no other offensive recruits left from that class other than Devin Gardner. There's not much on defense, either: Jibreel Black, Courtney Avery, and Jake Ryan are the only contributors. You are permitted to go poke your Rodriguez voodoo dolls now.
As for the future: Michigan now has a full 25 spots in the current class without anyone else leaving. Lewan is headed to the draft and Michigan's sudden urgency to recruit an additional linebacker or two probably indicates attrition is on its way there, so expect this class to bulge up to 27-28 when all is said and done. Sam Webb suggested on the radio today that Michigan could take up to seven more players from their current total of 21/22, give or take the longsnapper.
I'd expect Green/Dawson/some LB/Delano Hill as four of them, with randoms making up the remainder.
|WHAT||Michigan vs. West Virginia|
|WHERE||Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York|
|WHEN||8 PM Eastern, Saturday|
|LINE||Michigan –10 (Kenpom)|
Michigan's last high-major test before conference play begins comes against a struggling 4-4 West Virginia squad, which is coming off a four-point road loss to Duquesne. The Mountaineers have not fared well against tougher competition; they're 1-4 against KenPom top-100 teams, including a 44-point blowout loss at Gonzaga. Their lone win in that category came by a single point at home against #63 Virginia Tech.
West Virginia could pose some problems, however, especially up front. 6'10" center Aaric Murray is a very strong rebounder on both ends of the floor, hits 52.7% of his twos, and can even step out and knock down the occasional triple. Murray is also an strong defensive presence, boasting a 7.8% block rate.
Murray's counterpart up front, 6'9", 260-pound forward Deniz Kilicli, does two things well: pulling down offensive rebounds (12.4 OR%) and drawing fouls (6.5 fouls drawn/40 mins.). Unlike Murray, Kilicli is a bit of a mess offensively, hitting just 41.1% of his field goals (all twos) and 51.4% of his free throws, along with a high turnover rate. The fact that he's WVU's highest-usage player may explain some of their offensive woes.
6'1" guard Juwan Staten, the team's leading scorer at 10.6 points per game, is dangerous when he gets to the basket (65 FG% at the rim) but settles for a lot of two-point jumpers, of which he doesn't hit many—according to hoop-math.com, 65% of his shots are two-point jumpers, and he knocks down a paltry 22% of them. 5'11" point guard Jabarie Hinds is having a rough shooting year and doesn't have impressive assist numbers. 6'3" wing Terry Henderson gets a surprising number of offensive rebounds but also has awful shooting stats—14-43 from two and 6-22 from three this year.
The bench is led by 6'1" slasher Gary Browne, who boasts a solid O-rating of 111.9 despite an anemic 36.6 eFG%—like Kalicli, he gets to the line at a very high rate, and unlike Kalicli he actually takes advantage (81.8 FT%). 6'7" forward Keaton Miles is the team's defensive specialist, boasting high block and steal rates, and is a solid shooter inside the arc and at the line, though he's rarely used offensively.
Naturally, West Virginia's most efficient offensive player, backup big Kevin Noreen, also has the team's lowest usage rate.
Aside from Virginia Tech, victories have come against Marist, VMI, and Marshall. Losses have come at the hands of Gonzaga, Davidson, Oklahoma, and Duquesne. Interestingly, WVU has played only two home games, winning both; Saturday's game will be their fifth at a neutral site.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||42.2 (316)||15.8 (10)||40.8 (20)||33.3 (213)|
|Defense||47.4 (145)||21.6 (145)||32.0 (168)||38.5 (217)|
In case you didn't gather this above, the Mountaineers are a horrendous shooting squad, hitting 43.2% of their twos and 26.4% of their threes. They take care of the basketball and pull down a bunch of their misses, however, bumping their offense into the top 100 efficiency-wise; if they're not getting second-shot opportunities, they're in trouble.
Defensively, WVU is mediocre in just about every aspect, which in totality actually makes them an above-average unit. If there's an area to attack, it may be the perimeter, where they're allowing a higher-than-average number of three-point attempts; that's more indicative of poor perimeter defense than three-point percentage against.
Box out. Blinding insight, I know. West Virginia has a very tough time putting the ball in the basket on their first attempt. They do manage to get a second attempt at a pretty high rate. Keep them from doing that and this could easily turn into a blowout.
Collapse inside. West Virginia doesn't have a single player with more than nine attempts who's shooting more than 27.3% from three. They do have a couple guys, most notably Staten, who can get to the rim. Given the option of helping out against their slashers or staying out on their shooters, the choice is obvious.
Attack the paint. Both Murray and Kalicli are prone to foul trouble. Getting those two off the floor—particularly Murray, the team's best inside scorer, rebounder, and interior defender—would go a long way towards securing victory. West Virginia's most common lineup actually features three players 6'1" or shorter, which means Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas can take advantage of mismatches; they'll have to resist the temptation to simply shoot over their defenders, however.
Actually, Stauskas can shoot whenever he wants. Do what you do, man.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by ten
No. 2 Alabama (12-1 overall, 8-1 SEC)
Last game: Beat Georgia 32-28 in the SEC Championship after Georgia futzed a last-second goal line play.
As frightening as: Rome, ca. 450 A.D. Currently idling between sacks. Fear level = 9 but waning.
Superlative: Best cry after a win.
If Michigan could play them now: The humanity would overwhelm.
In hindsight, Michigan should have: Not scheduled them.
Bowl game: Will play No. 1 Notre Dame in a battle of which team Michigan fans want to cheer for less.
Prediction: It’s Notre Dame.
Air Force (6-6 overall, 5-3 MWC)
Last game: Blown out by Fresno State 48-15. It’s like people know how to defend the triple option. Crazy.
As frightening as: Kryptonite. Ostensibly harmless, inert substance that glows green around Michigan players and makes them appear slow and weak. Fear level = 5.
Superlative: Most infuriating to root against due to nameplates bearing noble ideals.
If Michigan could play them now: Nobody needs that twice in one season.
In hindsight, Michigan should have: Scheduled them later, as in not right after Alabama.
Bowl game: Will play Rice in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
Prediction: The ratings will be higher overseas.
UMass (1-11, 1-7 MAC)
Last game: Lost to Central Michigan 42-41.
Mike Cox!: 17 carries, 66 yards, 1 TD.
As frightening as: A flap of a butterfly’s wings. Every once in a while it might trigger a tiny vortex that blows a nearby butterfly off course. In this case that other butterfly would be 1-11 Akron. Fear level = 0.
Superlative: Most likely to appear in highlight reels of other teams.
If Michigan could play them now: It would be a nice glamour photo shoot for Michigan’s tailbacks complete with dramatic lighting, airbrushing, and green space.
In hindsight, Michigan should have: Not scheduled them. This game didn’t do anything for Michigan other than show us that Denard can throw a pick-six to even the worst defenses.
Bowl game: There should be an anti-playoff to determine the worst team in Division I.
No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0 overall)
Last game: Failed to lose to USC, 22-13.
As frightening as: MRSA. Fear level = 8.
Superlative: Most referees on payroll.
If Michigan could play them now: Michigan would probably find another way to lose again, which is fine. This year, as they say, is Not Ours.
In hindsight, Michigan should have: Run the ball more, which sounds crazy now, but back then people had luxuries like ulnar nerves and tibias. This kind of thing worked.
Bowl game: Notre Dame is 60 minutes away from Returning to Glory. Agasp.
Prediction: Either way Ohio State won't end up No. 1 in the AP.
Purdue (6-6 overall, 3-5 B1G)
Last game: Won rivalry game against Indiana 56-35, fired coach.
Arithmetic: WALRUS minus STACHE equals MANATEE.
If Michigan could play them now: It would be a semifinal match for the title of “B1G Team with most season-altering injuries.” In the other bracket of this hypothetical tournament is Iowa, which has a bye because of its self-explanatory No. 1 seed.
In hindsight, Michigan should have: Savored this win more.
Bowl game: Heart of Dallas Bowl vs. Oklahoma State.
Prediction: Oklahoma State is 7-5. All five of its losses have been to teams that were ranked at one point or another during the season; Purdue lost to Minnesota. In conference play, Oklahoma State beat TCU, No. 24 Iowa State, West Virginia, and No. 23 Texas Tech by multiple scores; in conference play, Purdue beat Indiana by multiple scores.
This should go real well.
Illinois (2-10 overall, 0-8 B1G)
Last game: Could not overcome five-score deficit; lost to Northwestern.
As frightening as: Someone else’s septic leak. Schadenfreude level = 4. It’s been a few years since they last beat Michigan, so it’s difficult to relish their misery.
Superlative: Most likely to develop oropharyngeal malignancy.
If Michigan could play them now: Be careful what you wish for, or Jim Delany might put them in Michigan’s division so Michigan can play them year after year after year until Fresno State joins the B1G and they have to redo the thing again. Playing Illinois every year doesn’t seem so bad, though. I just wish they could go back to being interesting rather than sad.
In hindsight, Michigan should have: Not injured Denard’s arm, since the arm issue would turn out to be kind of disastrous two games later. This is foreshadowing, for those of you who suffered from alcohol-induced retrograde amnesia after the OSU game and are now trying to piece the events of the season back together.
Bowl game: Ha. (By the way, what is with people typing “ha” over text or gchat? I normally have a two-“ha” minimum when I laugh electronically, unless I’m feeling derisive. Is being stingy with the “ha’s” a Michigan thing? I only ever notice this when communicating with people from Michigan.)
Michigan State (6-6 overall, 3-5 B1G)
Last game: Beat Minnesota 26-10, avoided a losing record.
As frightening as: A rock.
Fear level = 5.
Superlative: Most likely to throw up on self en route to Disney World, ruining the trip for everyone.
If Michigan could play them now: Maybe Michigan could have some fake audibles. Like, okay, you don’t want to play chess with Narduzzi, but wouldn’t it be fun to pretend like you are? “Alert alert alert!” = base play. “Blue 42! Blue 42!” = base play. “We’re going to throw it to Dileo!” = We’re going to throw it to Dileo.
In hindsight, Michigan should have: Anticipated the most obvious fake punt situation ever, which has only become more obvious in hindsight.
Bowl game: B-dubs vs. TCU. Should be fun to watch actually.
No. 16 Nebraska (10-3 overall, 7-2 B1G)
Last game: Lost 70-31 to Alabamasconsin.
As frightening as: A teenager who finally gets his license after failing twice. Fear level = 7, to others and self.
If Michigan could play them now: Oh if only.
In hindsight, Michigan should have: I hate them so much.
Bowl game: It’s more loathing than hate. It’s how you would feel about someone who you let copy your homework and then gets both of you in trouble.
Prediction: Nebraska plays Georgia. Good luck!
Minnesota (6-6 overall, 2-6 B1G)
Last game: Lost to Michigan State 26-10.
As frightening as: Anything that can be described as “scrappy.” Fear level = 3.
Superlative: Best tire fire mitigation effort.
If Michigan could play them now: Same story, different day.
In hindsight, Michigan should have: Prepared Devin Gardner to play quarterback a week earlier. This is purely a hindsight thing, though.
Bowl game: Ritual gopher slaughter at Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas vs. Texas Tech.
Prediction: The gods will be pleased.
All the better to play Monopoly with.
No. 20 Northwestern (9-3 overall, 5-3 B1G)
Last game: Managed to hold onto a five-score lead, beat Illinois 50-14.
As frightening as: Receiving an email with the subject line “Remove Me From This List!” Fear level = 7.
Superlative: Worst utilization of Kyle Prater.
If Michigan could play them now: I liked the screw-with-their-reads plan Mattison used late against Northwestern and Ohio State. Mattison knows how to play chess.
In hindsight, Michigan should have: Michigan had a good game plan. Northwestern put up a good fight. Not much to change.
Bowl game: Gator Bowl vs. Mississippi State.
Prediction: No idea actually. This will be a good match, oddly.
Iowa (4-8, 2-6 B1G)
Last game: Lost to Nebraska 13-7. What a tease.
As frightening as: Nomads indigenous to the Great Plains who believe most bright colors to be evil and think the best cure for a gangrenous running back situation is to sacrifice linemen to a deity named AIRBHG. Recently discovered fire and a vertical passing game, no idea how to use either. Fear level = 3.
Superlative: Most unexpectedly overrated. People thought I was being harsh when I predicted Iowa to go 6-6.
If Michigan could play them now: It would just be sad.
In hindsight, Michigan should have: Saved some of the game plan for Ohio State. This was the annual “We wasted the good surprise on you” game.
Bowl game: Iowa is a proud people who do not believe in bowl games.
Ohio State (12-0 overall, 8-0 B1G)
Last game: 1,000 newborns in the state of Ohio were named “Urban.”
As frightening as: VRSA. Fear level = 9.
Superlative: Worst thing ever.
If Michigan could play them now: By the end of the game, Braxton Miller will have sustained his tenth concussion (but still play anyway). Michigan will employ Denard and Devin in the same formation but hand it off to Vincent Smith anyway, because Ohio State would never expect it.
In hindsight, Michigan should have: Scored some points in the second half.
Bowl game: Gator Bowl vs. Florida, last year.
Ace pointed out a basketball coaching site yesterday that had a bunch of Beilein stuff and one thing led to another and this happened, because apparently this is just what I do.
Trying to see stuff in a basketball game was an interesting change of pace, since even with my Analytical Goggles on there's a lot of stuff that just seems to happen because players are good or not good. This aspect of football is obscured somewhat. A lot of coaches say The Expectation Is For The Position with a straight face—I don't think you've ever ever heard a basketball coach drop that.
The initial post Ace pointed out was a couple sections of Michigan's offense called "chin" and "shuffle" in which the center moves out to the free throw line and acts as a low-pressure fulcrum connecting two halves of the floor.
What struck me about chin/shuffle is how they use the center as a conduit, opening up space without putting undue pressure on what's usually the least skilled offensive player on the floor. Meanwhile, the other four positions rotate through a variety of spots, eventually becoming interchangeable parts looking for the half-step they need to attack or shoot instead of reset.
Michigan runs a variety of looks off of this, each of which probes the defense for an easy bucket before reverting to a high ball screen on which the guy receiving the screen has three options.
I set to watching the NC State game again to find examples of how this works, and came across an example of the two-post offense getting Morgan open underneath for two (eventually).
Setting The Offense
This is a bit of an oddity since it's a two-post lineup but the principles are the same; here the offense will work around the lack of a three-point threat from one of the wings thanks to a busted NC State defensive assignment.
The above is the on-court equivalent of this:
For reasons unexplained the document consistently calls the two-guard in this offense a "trailor" instead of a "trailer" or I guess a "tailor". Supposition: he is a trailer who is suppose to tailor some offense. YEAH
So here the post has "flashed" but McGary just kind of set up at the line as Burke brought the ball up the court. The things in the document are an idealized version of the real world, I find. For instance, in one of the ways the offense starts is by dumping the ball to the center and then having the point and "trailor" cut to the basket.
Once 5 catches the pass, 1 and 4 [ed: the "trailor" yes I will eventually have to either fix that or drop the quote marks] SPRINT backdoor to the block. 5 looks for either 1 or 4.
Real life is dang perfunctory relative to an all-caps exhortation to SPRINT. The document does admit a bit later that "It is not common for either player to be open of [sic] this cut" and asks the 2—Morgan in this play—not to be "robotic". On this play the initial movements of Burke and Hardaway are soft jogs to their spot.
On this play Michigan is running "shuffle" instead of chin. Shuffle looks like chin when they start the play, but starts like this:
dotted line is a pass
Once Morgan receives the pass, Burke and Hardaway jog to the spots they're supposed to get to…
…and McGary extends to the top of the key to receive a rote pass from Morgan. No one has made a decision yet.
Meanwhile, a conveniently-timed graphic notes that eight minutes into the game Hardaway has more points than the rest of Michigan combined. Naturally he is going to receive lots of defensive attention. The guy checking Hardaway is CHECKING HARDAWAY in his brain.
McGary now has a rote pass to make of his own, this one a swing to Stauskas.
"5 pops high, 3 reverses through the 5 to 2," sayeth document
Hardaway sets a "shuffle screen" on Morgan's man; Hardaway's man is looking at that graphic and going "oh man I better check Hardaway"; Morgan gets hand-wavingly wide open underneath the basket.
Stauskas dumps it down; Morgan misses, gets his own rebound, and finishes.
Meanwhile, Michigan has already executed the next part of the play with McGary screening whoever shows up on Hardaway.
If NC State had covered Morgan appropriately this was likely to be a quality three-point look for Hardaway.
"5 [McGary] sets the down screen for the 4 [Hardaway],
4 comes off the screen looking to shoot or curl it for a mid-range jumper.
2 [Stauskas] looks for 4.
After the screen 5 can look to slip to the basket or straight cut the FT line. 2 looks either for the lob[!] or at the elbow."
As it is, it's a layup for Morgan, eventually.
Things And Stuff
There aren't really many player takeaways on a short open layup that Morgan misses, gets back, and puts back. If we're trying to figure out some things about how Michigan runs offense, a lot of these broad early strokes are going to be off, as well. But…
A lot of the early movement in the offense is the process of getting into a play. On this play Michigan makes three passes and sends four players in motion before anyone has a decision to make. When Michigan dumps it to the center and then runs around and whatnot they're not really expecting to get a shot out of that, they're just moving into a variant of one of their standard looks.
Whoever is open is open. In half-court sets the guy who gets the ball is just going to be the guy who is open until nothing works and Burke has to create or die off a pick and roll.
Probe, reset, probe, reset. This is not a good example because Michigan just gets a quick easy bucket, but the document suggests the rhythm you can pick up watching Michigan play sometimes as situations happen over and over on the same possession as Michigan searches for the edge.
In a hole called Le Moyne College, there coached a hobbit. This small Jesuit school in Syracuse's shadow's most distinguishing campus experience is everybody gets drunk the first day of spring. (Nearest Michigan equivalent: the first 50-degree day in April when everybody pretends it's 70 degrees and skips class to throw Frisbees in the Law Quad).
Beilein spent almost a decade there, twice that of anywhere else, turning the moribund program into a regular Division II playoff team. From there it was five years at Canisius, which you remember because in 1996 your bracket suddenly had Canisius on it and you weren't used to various Gonzagas and Xaviers being on there yet. Then it was Richmond for five years, which you also remember because in '98 they popped into your bracket and then beat South Carolina.
At this point in the story I turn you over to ClearEyesFullHart, your diarist of the week and a guy making a bid to become the diaries' official basketball columnist guy. Gale Catlett, the Mountaineers' coach for over two decades, was being ousted as sanctions were coming down and his replacement was barely there long enough to celebrate Chanukah (8 days)…
Long story short, a laundry list of coaches turned the job down after that (including Bob Huggins) until John Beilein took on the challenge. He was tasked with rebuilding the program as well as the culture from the ground up. That is exactly what he did, taking West Virginia to the Elite Eight, the Sweet 16, and winning an NIT Championship in his 5 years as West Virginia’s coach.
Five years each step of the way since Le Moyne, and here we are at six, facing Bob Huggins and the program he took over after Beilein transformed it into something Huggins would find worthwhile, and with Beilein having transformed Michigan into something that both Lloyd Carr and people who rank basketball teams find worthwhile.
Except when they're letting Arkansas stay in it too long|Upchurch
CEFH also wrote a preview for Binghampton that turned out to be way more entertaining than watching Michigan play Binghampton.
"Football isn't statistical enough," –MGoBlog readers. Football, especially college, is the ultimate low sample size sport. You're barely into your first set of rank-determining games before the season ends. A single play's expected points swing is often greater than the final margin of victory. That and the NFL's aesthetic need to standardize their product across brands into a package experience targeted at the meanest possible demographic has led to the sport being a heaven for platitudes. Platitude is the enemy of the MGoBlog diarist.
For example, take "our only goal is to win the game." Not so says biakabutuka experience, because truly, assigning an arbitrary time point to the general goal of scoring more than the opponent needlessly removes good data. I mean other than specific scenarios of trying to kill clock before a go-ahead score at the end of a game or maneuvering to have the last possession of the half, aren't coaches always playing for the lead? What if the score of every play could be used to calculate team strength, wouldn't that multiply the available samples significantly? You see where he's going with this? I wonder if he can't add an expected score component so that teams get credited with advancing toward the end zone since coaches aren't trying to get a touchdown every play. Also he needs to figure out a way to scale the importance of any given point by scenario since teams do give up, and because the final score is ultimately the goal.
Etc. The guy who keeps shamelessly plugging his wife's website shares a harrowing tale of Ohio sports fandom (at a Browns game but everyone immediately says "that's so Columbus!"). Western Kentucky offering a parking spot for Bobby Petrino's hog draws out the THE_KNOWLEDGE. Brian already covered the Avant gif but here it is the thread from whence it came. I still haven't given up my quest since college to call him "Shoop", an onomatopoeia for the sound his hands make when a football is near.
Best of the Board
ANARCHY IN FIVE…FOUR…THREE..TWO…ONE…
No that is not a gif of Nick Sheridan's first throw vs. Utah, or even Russ Bellomy's first chance to do something other than pad a blitzer from Lincoln's field turf last year. What you are seeing is our moderating team telling the board that at least for a couple of weeks before we get back to bowl and recruiting season the in-season off-topic rules are lifted. To encourage appropriate pos-banging the mods offered a contest of gif posting. I went for Sound of Music…
Denard as Kal-El and Denard on Wife Day
Magic: The Gathering Mouton and Ezeh
Sparty's new helmet and hating on Rod
I can't believe that I call this my job!
Also a reminder to thank your local mods—imagine having to spend hours deleting 85 reposts of a NSFW Kate Upton gif so that everyone can still enjoy the rest of the thread.
EPIC HOKE DOUBLE-POINT TO WISCONSIN WOLVERINE
Think of the most epic player pics from the last few years turned into threshold iphone wallpapers.
The real version of the Jake Ryan photo above is gonna be the next HTTV cover BTW.
MICHIGAN ENGINEERS ARE NERDS OF AWESOME
The M-gineers made a somewhat Pythonic video of a torch lighting ceremony to announce the 2013 Mr. Engineer Contest, which they're getting Denard and Kovacs to judge. If you don't recognize the scenery it's because that is North Campus; don't worry LSA student you don't ever have to go there except when your artist friend has a showing.
Every snap video of South Carolina-Arkansas for more scouting pleasure. Expected visitors this weekend from robbyt003. Cal trying a logo other than a seal = fail; Michigan need not worry since the Block M works for the university as well as the athletic dept.
Your moment of zen:
Volleyball final four tonight. 7 PM, ESPN 2.
Ace with the quick photoshop for the win:
You have the two triangles of hate plus Nebraska's desire to make one of them a parallelogram of hate plus everyone else in the other division. The balance is as fair as possible: M-OSU versus everybody. The straight East-West split is a lot less drivable and places the three teams with the most recruiting muscle in the same division.
They will release results for this on Monday at 6:30, FWIW, and then ignore everything so they can create the JUSTICE and BEATIFIC TOLERANCE divisions while introducing the league's new logo, which is a stained glass window of Jim Delany with a halo.
BONUS: "*Actual Division Names TBD"
Line of the week. From the MZone:
Thankfully, our pal Surrounded in Columbus is always good for a nugget or four from deep behind enemy lines. Today he sent the picture below with the following email:
Most people would be disappointed to be 12-0 & staying home. They're not most people.
No word yet on when Tressel Boned Us But We Still Hoisted Him on Our Shoulders Like Morons Lane is going up.
Ohio State hosts a "celebration of perfection against reason" Tuesday during which Galileo will be burned at the stake and the sun declared to revolve around the earth.
Tell me something I don't know. Maurice Clarett:
He was a hard worker in practice and in games. But off the field, he was living a completely different life. "I took golf, fishing, and softball as classes," Clarett says. "Away from class, anything you can think of I did in my 13 months at Ohio State." Drugs and women were two of the things. Cars were another—he owned three of them at a time, including a brand-new Cadillac and Lexus. "I was living the NFL life in college," he says. "I got paid more in college than I do now in the UFL.
Hey, guys who were interested in Marawatch: now is a high-leverage time for some private investigations of OSU.
Scorched-earth bombing of the week. From Patrick Hruby on the insane levels of subsidy thrown out to nonprofit entities like… the NFL.
In the eyes of the IRS, the National Football League is considered a nonprofit outfit. Just like the United Way. Read that again. The NFL -- a league that makes roughly $9 billion in revenue per season and will collected a guaranteed $27 billion in television money over the next decade -- enjoys the same tax breaks as, say, your local chamber of commerce, because both are classified as 501(c)6 organizations. Under federal law, 501(c)6 organizations -- essentially, business leagues -- are defined as associations of persons having some common business interest, the purpose of which is to promote such common interest and not to engage in a regular business of a kind ordinarily carried on for profit. Does that sound like the NFL to you?
It's been said before but the contrast between socialist NFL and the largely capitalist, competition-driven way European leagues are set up is kind of amazing. I envy soccer fans their league structure in which teams at the bottom are punished, not rewarded, and poor performers drop out of existence. Imagine a world in which the Lions are a fourth-division team and some other Michigan outfit is competing in the NFL. Mmmm. Justice.
Instead, William Clay Ford has been allowed to ruin pro football in Detroit for 50 years. Down with antitrust exemptions for sports.
Speaking of, OH MY GOD. This is from Bylaw Blog proprietor John Infante is… bizarre. Probably unworkable. It has a zero point zero percent chance of actually happening. And it was posted in February, at which point I missed it. But it's kind of amazing to think about:
The College Basketball Champions League (CBBCL) would be the premier college basketball competition. It would consist of the following stages:
- A qualifying stage of up to three rounds;
- A group stage over six weeks;
- A knockout stage of four rounds.
The CBBCL as currently configured would consist of 56–58 teams. All bids to the CBBCL would be automatic bids based on winning or finishing high in your conference. A rating or coefficient system would be used on the conference level, and would be based solely on a conference’s performance in the CBBCL.
Basically, throw over the current model in favor of a Euro soccer model, cups and all. Again, never never happen but thinking about it is pretty cool. No more Binghamton games for top teams as they compete in their conference and the Champions League, just wall-to-wall killer games.
Again, never happen in a million years but it's always fun to think of ways to make revenue by increasing the excitement level of the sport instead of just making fans more and more resentful. One way to do that is to add more silverware. Right now most American sports are structured so that there is one thing to strive for and that thing is determined by fairly random playoff at the end of a regular season.
The February NBA game is the quintessential example of the disease this leads to, and while I find complaints that no one cares about college basketball until the tournament to be unconvincing, people are thinking about goosing the rest of the year:
“Once the reforms to the college football postseason are complete, we have a responsibility to think long and hard about how we can improve the basketball regular season,” said Larry Scott, the commissioner of the Pacific-12 Conference. “The game deserves it.”
Here's an idea: play every nonconference game at the same time on the same court. Yeah! /markhollis'd.
Here's a better idea: expand the preseason tourney exemption to move away from one-weekend events played on neutral courts to a mini-me version of a cup competition in which regular season champions from the previous year square off on randomly-drawn home courts until you get to a final four, which is at MSG or bid out. There are 33, so one play-in game, three weeks of Friday night games, and then a Final Four. Silverware that means something and packs out home floors. HOME FLOORS, people.
Consider your travel plans today. Not those travel plans. Joe Lunardi threw out an updated bracket because ten games into the season's as good a time as any. The bracket has Michigan a one seend(!), bringing forth a question and a statement.
The question: what does Joe Lunardi do nine months out of the year?
The statement: for the first time it looks like the NCAA tournament's decision to break everything into pods and try to get as many top seeds close to home will benefit Michigan, as they're slotted into Auburn Hills in this and any other bracket that bothers to list where people will be.
It will be hard for them to exit that territory since top four seeds usually get priority close to home and there aren't many teams projected to make the top four who would prefer to go to the Palace: MSU, obviously, and then Cincinnati, Notre Dame, and maybe Illinois. With Dayton as another outlet for any of those teams, three or four of them would have to pass Michigan to get that Palace spot. So, yeah.
If Michigan makes the Sweet 16, they'd probably get bumped out of Indianapolis unless they finish above the Hoosiers on the S-Curve. That might not be so bad since they're not playing the regional finals at the basketball arena, but rather the Colts' Stadium. While it will be funny to see Indiana basketball outdraw the Big Ten Championship game significantly, most of those seats are going to be terrible.
Aw man, the other travel plans make you feel baaaad. After hemming and hawing about going to the bowl game I finally did get a flight, and now I feel like a jerk for doing so:
8:54PM EST December 11. 2012 - No bowl game in college football pays more money to one person than the Outback Bowl in Tampa Bay.
His name is Jim McVay, the game's president and chief executive officer.
According to tax forms, the bowl paid McVay $753,946 in fiscal year 2010, $693,212 in 2009 and $808,032 in 2008. His pay has nearly doubled since 2002, when he earned $404,253. This year, his game matches Michigan (8-4) and South Carolina (10-2) on Jan. 1.
"He's done a fabulous job," says Mike Schulze, a spokesman for the game. "It's about being fairly compensated based on what the market dictates."
Dammit. This is why I don't go to bowl games. McVay made more than the CEO of the American Red Cross, which has revenues of $3.5 billion. The Outback Bowl brought in 10 million, of which they are paying this joker 7.5%. Also:
The median salary for the 15 bosses at the non-profit bowls reviewed by USA TODAY Sports is about three times higher than the $132,739 median for a nonprofit chief executive, according to a study of 3,786 mid-to-large charities in 2010 by Charity Navigator, a charity watchdog.
I mean seriously I feel bad for supporting this in any way.
Q for a non-Rose Bowl rookie: should I just scalp in Tampa? I assume that face value is for suckers, right?
Rutgers lollercoaster. The Big Ten is going to threaten cable companies in the newly expanded Big Ten footprint unless they cut the league the same deal the Midwest does, except this time this is their leverage:
The fact that Maryland and Rutgers are joining the Big Ten Conference doesn’t guarantee that their games will be on the Big Ten Network. In fact, several of their games may not be available locally at all — TV or broadband — when they kick off their Big Ten seasons in 2014.
Maryland and Rutgers face the possibility of having at least two football games and at least 15 basketball games go untelevised locally when they join the conference in a year and a half.
That’s because the Big Ten Conference is looking into a strategy that could keep all Maryland and Rutgers games — encompassing all sports — off of the Big Ten Network unless local distributors place the channel on an expanded basic tier. The Big Ten used that strategy successfully in Nebraska last year when the Cornhuskers joined the conference, and the conference is expected to use it again in 2014 when Maryland and Rutgers join.
I think that'll probably work in DC thanks to Maryland's lacrosse and basketball outfits but if it doesn't it is going to be delightful to see Comcast get into a fight because of the team that plays in the Comcast Center. I cannot wait for that standoff to go down.
I find it difficult to believe many—if any—New York area cable companies are going to look at the threat of not getting two Rutgers football games a year and cave; not having Rutgers basketball is probably a selling point. Here's to a decades-long ban on Rutgers content on the BTN.
Etc.: Get out while you can, Catholic schools! form a sensible 10-12 conference from Milwaukee to DC and watch people like it! Maryland gets money up front to leave the ACC. Chesson and Darboh called out as impressive players early in bowl practice, which yes please. Burke declares M elite. Hardaway's recent shooting is the closest thing Michigan has to a concern right now. Surprise Michigan still doesn't run zone.
Today's (brief) recruiting roundup covers an intruiging new 2013 offer, this weekend's visitors, and more.
Delano Hill Offered
The onslaught of offers to committed 2013 prospects continues unabated; this time, Michigan offered Cass Tech safety Delano Hill, a longtime Iowa commit, per Allen Trieu ($, info in header). CT defensive coordinator Jermain Crowell told Trieu that Hill is likely to visit Michigan and has been talking to David Dawson about playing together in college—Dawson will take his official visit this weekend, and it's possible Hill joins him. Crowell also speaks highly of Hill's athleticism and ability:
The Wolverines have two corners, Delonte Hollowell and Terry Richardson, from Cass Tech on their roster, and a third, Jourdan Lewis committed. Hill may get a look at corner from the Wolverines and Crowell believes his size and speed will give him a real chance to compete.
"Delano's faster than all of them. He's a difference maker, that's why I didn't understand why they didn't recruit him."
I've seen Hill play several times now and like the offer. He's got good size (6'1", 190), very good closing speed, and he isn't afraid to come up and hit—Hill is very active against the run from his safety spot. While Hill doesn't always make eye-popping plays, he's usually around the football and always seems to end up with more than a handful of tackles. If he visits this weekend, that would be a very good sign for Michigan.
[For this weekend's visitors and more, hit THE JUMP.]
OR: GONE IN 0.6 SECONDS
One of the weirdest things about the recent Big Ten expansion—let me start over.
One of the least weird things that was still weird about the recent Big Ten expansion was a particular reaction from Maryland basketball fans deriding the Big Ten for being slow-it-down bore ball. Anyone who's listened to fans from conferences other than the Big Ten has probably heard the refrain about how the league is like watching Charles Oakley and Ben Wallace headbutt each other to death.
It's true that the Big Ten tends to have big burly defenses, but the Big Ten's long-held reputation for slowness has always been bizarre to me. Thanks to Michigan State bloggers' insatiable desire to scatterplot things, here's a visual representation of that. Rightward is faster, higher is more variation within the conference:
This is a tightly bunched random assortment on a scale that essentially goes from 65 to 69. Most of the conferences to the right are small outfits, and there's barely any differentiation to get worked up about anyway. The slowest major conference in the country is the Big Ten, yeah, at about 65.6 possessions. The fastest is the Pac-12 at about 67.6 possessions.
That difference is beyond negligible. The average Pac-12 fan sees a shot ending in a make, free throws, or defensive rebound every 17.7 seconds. The average Big Ten fan only enjoys this experience every 18.3 seconds. Take a fan from a Pac-12 team and give him a blind taste test between the two leagues and he won't comment on the pace, he'll ask "where is all the writhing incompetence?" and "why is this fun?" about one of the games before deciding he cannot possibly be watching the Pac-12. (Readers are not encouraged to try a similar experiment in football.)
For the Maryland fans still drunk on Gary Williams telling his guys to scream down the court, the difference was larger. Significantly so? Well. The fastest Terp outfit I could find in Kenpom roared up and down the court for 75.5 possessions a game, second in the country, which meant Maryland fans saw a shot go up every 15.9 seconds. (They did this en route to the NIT, FWIW). I'll grant that on a team level things can seem a lot different…
…but even there you have a couple of major outliers amongst a pack in which the differences in fast break opportunities are small enough to chalk up to chance. That looks like a normal distribution to me.
The differences here just aren't that large. Tempo free stats are excellent for parsing out the outliers like that Maryland team and correctly diagnosing things like rebounding that regular stats are hilariously wrong about, but when it comes to aesthetics, no conference pushes the ball up the floor enough for there to be significant differences. Except the WAC, because WAC is gonna WAC even if they don't play football anymore. Viva WAC.
Anyway, the next time someone garrumphs at you about how boring the Big Ten is, wait 0.6 seconds and scream at him, then tell him that's how much longer you have to wait to see a possession end. Bonus: he will probably stop being friends with you at this point so you won't have to have more annoying hot-sprots-take conversations with him.
Here is a section of the press release:
Michigan to Face Notre Dame in Primetime, Honor Tom Harmon as Michigan Football Legend
Ann Arbor, Mich. – The University of Michigan football team will face the University of Notre Dame in a nationally-televised primetime game at Michigan Stadium, it was announced Tuesday (Dec. 11) in a joint announcement with ESPN. The athletic department will honor 1940 Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon, installing him as a Michigan Football Legend during a pre-game ceremony.
“Our athletic department is looking forward to recreating the night game magic from two years ago,” said Dave Brandon, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics. “We have more in store for this game than the initial night game and will work hard to create many WOW moments. One of those magical moments will be the honoring of Tom Harmon. He is one of the greatest athletes in school history and we are excited to celebrate all that he accomplished at Michigan. Having Tom’s ‘Old 98’ back on the field will be special. This will be a memorable evening for everyone at Michigan Stadium or watching the game on TV. This will be the final match-up with Notre Dame at the Big House for the foreseeable future.”
Rumor is they will retroactively change Denard's number to 98.
Ace stole my joke so I guess I have to write something longer. /shakes fist at ace
@mgoblog Beilein is friends with Binghamton's coach -- not sure if that makes it OK, but there it is.
"Yeah, Binghamton Guy?"
"Could you do me a favor?"
"Anything, Binghamton Guy."
"I need you to punch me in the face really hard."
"Love to, Binghamton Guy."
I guess Binghamton gets a check for the one-off game. In all other ways that's a weird way to do a guy a favor.
Seriously though. I'd rather Michigan played a string of Bradley-type games where they play decent competition in home-and-home situations and just inflated the ticket price the dollar or whatever that they'd have to to compensate.
For one, it's more fun for everyone. For two, you get an RPI bonus for playing on the road, a relatively big one:
A home win now counts as 0.6 win, while a road win counts as 1.4 wins. Inversely, a home loss equals 1.4 losses, while a road loss counts as 0.6 loss. A neutral game counts as 1 win or 1 loss. This change was based on statistical data that consistently showed home teams in Division I basketball winning about two-thirds of the time. Note that this location adjustment applies only to the WP factor and not the OWP and OOWP factors.
You can futz with the system to give yourself an edge by playing a team that you should beat on the road like Bradley, and in doing so you prep yourself for playing in hostile environments a bit. I'd like Michigan to have a couple mid-major road tests a year.
Unfortunately the Bradley home-and-home is also a Beilein's buddy sort of thing—probably not a coincidence that this series was scheduled after Bradley hired Beilein's son. It's not a thing we can expect to continue. Michigan decided to stop playing Oakland because they were too good, which like… mmph.
That's unfortunate since that game in Peoria was a lot more interesting than this one. It's a lot better to see your team beat an opponent in front of a packed house of upset-demanding Peorians than a deservedly half-full Crisler. It will also be a relative asset come tourney time. I'd like it if Michigan made a habit of going on the road to MVC and A-10 schools. I mean, what if Michigan made a habit of playing at Calihan Hall? That's some branding activity right there.
Ah, that's not going to happen. I know I know incremental revenue is more important than anything that does not provide incremental revenue. As far as the actual game…
Idle Kenpom thoughts. It seems like the way to solve a problem like Wisconsin is to discount games between heavily mismatched opponents. You could feel Michigan just shrug in the second half as they launched uncontested three after uncontested three, and does it really matter that they weren't as good at annihilating a team that plays like that as Wisconsin is?
The problem with this theory is that I bet Kenpom tried it and it didn't work. When he makes changes to his formulas he checks them against previous seasons to see if the changes make them better or worse at predicting things, and I'm sure he's tried something obvious like lessening the importance of mismatches.
It is worth noting that Kenpom took a lot of heat for having Wisconsin second as of January ninth last year, when the Badgers were 1-3 in the Big Ten and had nothing positive on their record save wins over UNLV and BYU. Wisconsin won 11 of their final 14 regular season games and came within a point of upsetting Syracuse in the Sweet 16. Were they overrated? Yeah. Did Kenpom probably have Wisconsin rated better than people complaining about them? Yeah.
But maybe it's just time to throw your hands up at the Badgers and say computers can't rank them well. Last year:
For instance, one of the most respected ratings systems in the nerd world is the LRMC ratings. They had Wisconsin fifth before yesterday’s games. Last year, heading into the tournament, they had Belmont fourth, and their system outperforms mine! The Sagarin predictor, also deservedly respected, had Wisconsin second heading into yesterday’s games.
As always, this is the right attitude to take:
Q: Your work is flawed. (Not really a Q, either, I guess, but I get this all the time.)
A: Ugh, I hate it when people say this. Of course it’s flawed. The thing is, your knowledge is flawed, too. If you are ignoring potentially useful tools because of a single issue, then your judgment is flawed as well. And I’m guessing you’ve never tracked the quality of your knowledge so you don’t even know how flawed it is. If you’re like most people, you think you’re knowledge is great because you remember the predictions you made that worked out and you forget about the ones that didn’t. It’s human nature. …
I would say there’s still enough value in the work here to provide a useful reality check on your own knowledge. Used together, your flawed knowledge and my flawed tools can be more powerful than used separately.
Just mentally account for the fact teams that annihilate low-majors can get overrated and that Wisconsin is currently benefiting from some amount of preseason expectation that is keeping them loftier than they otherwise would be.
No seriously this time I'll talk about the actual game…
Hardaway shooting alarm going off. Baumgardner wrote an article before this one mentioning that Hardaway's shooting had been falling off and that this was okay because he was doing other stuff. I'm on board, but at some point the shooting woes become problematic. In this one he was 2/9 from three, 1/4 from two, and the vast majority of those were wide open looks he just missed. His three point percentage has dipped to 33% and the number of threes he's taking is accelerating rapidly.
He started the year off going to the basket over and over again; he should resume that activity. I'd rather have the guy commit a charge per game than camp out at the three point line. We've got a guy for that now.
The inevitable decline continues. Stauskas was 4-8 from three and was saved a ninth miss on his record because he had a toe on the line—must have, anyway. He got hacked on a couple of short attempts, and this was ignored as the refs must have had DVRed a House marathon and couldn't wait to get back to watch it.
I am still in favor of Stauskas shooting all of the threes. Surprise.
Albrecht still pretty good. Perhaps less impressive against this outfit than Arkansas but in ten minutes he canned a three and had a 2-0 A:TO ratio. He keeps things moving when Burke's out.
Also Horford. Horford is Michigan's most active and impactful defender. McGary keeps sucking in huge rebound numbers (10 in 17 minutes in this one with four offensive rebounds) and will probably keep his place in line. I'm not sure I can detect any dropoff from center #1 to center #3. All of them bring different things to the table.
I'll be interested to see what happens when Cody Zeller comes to town. Eyeballing it, it seems like Horford is the best matchup against him. Will he get extended minutes or will Michigan roll with their current lineup?
The 1-3-1: too aggressive? I may be remembering this wrong but it seems like the 1-3-1 is now extending itself all the way to half-court, which seems like a problem. I recall Horford getting all the way out to the three-point line on one of the 1-3-1 possessions when a driver tried to take it between the trappers, and I recall that happening a couple feet closer to the hoop when I watched WVU.
The thing has not been particularly effective against teams other than Pitt and I wonder if they're just giving up too much space by extending it all the way out. I know a conservative 1-3-1 is a bizarre concept, but… yeah.
Opponent watch update! West Virginia lost to Duquesne for the first time since 2003 despite going up 25-10; they closed the game 9 of 32. Michigan should not have much trouble in Brooklyn.